A good hotel should be a treat, and the Waterhead Hotel at the top of Lake Windermere in Ambleside always manages to live up to both parts of that equation.
You can see it is a good hotel the minute you pull up outside. A plaque on the wall proudly proclaims it to be the Cumbrian Hotel of the Year for 2016, quite an achievement when you consider the amount and variety of overnight accommodation the Lake District has to offer.
Once inside, it does not take long to work out why. If you are going to treat yourself you might as well do it properly, and the Waterhead is one of those places that goes the extra mile with thoughtful touches to make a visitor’s stay special.
This is an hotel with gin and tonic awaiting guests in the bedroom – and ice to go with it – and a bottle of whisky residing in the breakfast room lest anyone should fancy a splash in their porridge.
The beds are super comfortable, the white linen immaculate and the dressing gowns luxuriously fluffy, but the hidden detail that makes me smile every time is the underfloor heating in the bathroom so that the slate tiles are both warm and welcoming. You can keep your spa treatments and massages, this is my idea of being pampered.
A full range of beauty treatments and the like are normally available half a mile away at Waterhead’s sister hotel Low Wood, currently undergoing major refurbishment but expected to be open for business again soon.
Low Wood arguably has an even better view across Windermere to the Langdale skyline, though Waterhead is more convenient for Ambleside and has a boutique style all of its own.
Once you park up outside Waterhead you can leave the car until you are ready to go home, perhaps just as well when the hotel bar offers an unusually wide range of premium gins and exotic mixers.
You can take a boat on the lake virtually from the front door, Ambleside’s shops and restaurants are in easy strolling distance, and if your preference is for a more adventurous walk the Troutbeck and Fairfield fells are ready and waiting just outside.
In the summer months, the Waterhead even boasts its own outdoor pizza oven, quickly becoming something of a local landmark parked on the front lawn.
The Lake District is not exactly famous for Neapolitan fare, nor, it must be said, for Neapolitan weather, though the Waterhead believes in offering guests a bit of everything and on sunny days the alfresco pizza option has proved a hugely popular winner.
Food served in the restaurant prides itself on being locally sourced and the impressive array on effort was a delight to muse on as we tramped across the snow-clad fells.
Who wouldn’t look forward to Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese souffle, baked terrine of rabbit, guinea fowl and patridge, haunch of venison steak, slow cooked Cumbrian lamb shank, Cumbrian game pie, roast breast of Cumbrian corn-fed free range chicken or blade of Cumbrian beef?
And that’s before you even start on the delicious deserts!
If like me you just love being in the Lakes, this is just the dreamiest place to stay in the loveliest place in the world.
Dining Enquiries: 01539 430708
Room Enquiries: 03304 042680